Teachers Are Like Gardeners




As we settle in, pen in hand, piles of dog-eared, crinkled seed catalogues at our feet…. Enjoy two apt analogies for the teaching profession:



….and another, originally written for NCLB and adapted to the CCSSI…

A teacher is the best person to evaluate a student, period. They know them, they know the character of each incoming class– and they ARE different, just as each individual is different. Some classes go very smooth, others struggle. Even as the year progresses you find that certain topics engage them more, or are better or not so better understood.

My analogy is the teacher as a gardener. You start out with a solid plan to grow tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. Each with an allotted space and anticipated production. So many variables out of your control are already in place: the weather (which changes every year), the soil makeup with yearly variances, pests of all sorts, new diseases, hail, and freezing, but you have the motivation and determination to do the best with what you have.

However as the season progresses, you notice that the tomatoes are coming along very nicely, but the carrots are a little sub-par. So after intimate examination along with your experience, you tweak the soil so you can at least get some reasonable carrot harvest. At the end of the season, you have some good crops, and some so-so. But what you have done is maximized the potential for each crop in a very dynamic system through your OWN daily interaction, one in which you don’t just “set it and forget it”. (The next season you start all over again, but you can’t just repeat what you did this year, because the variables will again change.)

So now you have all of your produce in a neat pile, and proud of yourself for all of the hard work, but already you reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and you start getting prepared for next year.

Now comes along some tool in a suit and clipboard and she says “I’m the (Common Core)!, …your carrots are 12.3 pounds short! and those tomatoes aren’t perfectly spherical and 3 inches in diameter. What? There’s no pineapples? Wrong Wrong Wrong! You are supposed to produce exactly 40 pounds of each product we specify, no more, no less, and you can’t grow anything from seeds not sold by us. So we are going to pay you less than the market rate. Also we are going to reduce the size of your plot because you can’t produce; obviously it’s your fault.” Then she sends you a bill for assessing you.

The (Common Core) is a Trojan horse. The intent is to break one of the last bastions of union organization by forcing a rigid system on something that needs flexibility and freedom. The setup for failure is obvious. With failure you can impose punishment. The mindset behind the Common Core is identical production, like in a factory. All work should be done by unquestioning and unpaid robots, doing the same motion repeatedly, making unliving plastic items of no use. The classroom is an organic system, which needs constant care and attention, best left to the gardener.




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